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Torbay Council, part of the local campaign alliance, put out an appeal to hotels and guesthouses to find safe housing for people experiencing homelessness. As a result, the number of people sleeping on the streets in Torbay fell from around 19 before the COVID-19 outbreak to four during the lockdown. Find out about the full emergency response from Torbay and other campaign cities in our latest report: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Joined the campaign: November 2016

Who’s involved? Torbay End Street Homelessness Campaign (TESH) is jointly led by three organisations – Torbay Council, homelessness charity Shekinah Mission, and housing association Westward Housing. Many other organisations are involved including PATH Torbay,  The Haven Torbay and Torbay Street Pastors.

What has happened so far? Torbay is a borough in Devon incorporating the three towns of Torquay, Brixham and Paignton, where rough sleeping has increased dramatically in recent years. Whilst this reflects a national trend, Torbay shows a higher increase compared to England as a whole.

They held their first Connections Week in April 2017. 25 volunteers spoke to 29 people on the street – half of people surveyed (50%) had been on the streets for at least a year and one individual had been homeless fifteen times.

In response to the survey findings Torbay introduced steps on how they will support individuals off the streets into permanent homes, including:

  • using a single local phone number to report people sleeping on the streets;
  • entering information about people on to a single system;
  • developing Housing First for those who have been sleeping rough; and
  • using a single approach across Torbay no matter which organisation is working with an individual.

Their second and third Connections Weeks were held in 2018 and 2019 – which have continued to provide valuable evidence of the need for more accommodation options for people with multiple and complex needs.

In 2018 Torbay published a Housing First Feasibility Study by the national homelessness charity Crisis, which investigated  how a whole-scale introduction of a Housing First system could be introduced within the area. The Council subsequently accepted both Housing First and Rapid Rehousing as a strategic direction and provided £500,000 for two years funding for a Housing First service.

This new Housing First service began in April 2019, providing immediate accommodation and intensive support for the most entrenched rough sleepers in the city. The Housing First team includes a dedicated mental health specialist. Some of the team travelled to Amsterdam to learn from Discus Housing First. Find out more in this blog.

What’s next? Torbay sees Housing First as part of a wider systems-change approach to the commissioning of all support services across the coastal area. Their campaign aims to move beyond a partnership and traditional commissioning approach and move towards genuine alliances between the local council and services, in which risk and responsibility is shared – including things like the temporary accommodation budget. Find out more about the transformation in this blog.

They are currently carrying out an evaluation of their local campaign, to capture learning and inform its future development.

Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.


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